John Terry: Still Captain Material?

As has been well documented, John Terry is currently under police investigation for allegedly making a racist slur towards Q.P.R defender Anton Ferdinand. Video footage circulating the internet appears to show Terry mouthing the words “black bastard” at the player, though some of the words exchanged are obscured by other players crossing the screen.

Interestingly, Terry does not claim he did not say those words, but instead has explained he was replying to an accusation by Ferdinand that he had made a racist comment:  ‘I thought Anton was accusing me of using a racist slur against him. I responded aggressively, saying that I never used that term.’

Ferdinand spoke to Terry after the game, but later admitted he had never accused the Chelsea captain of using a slur against him. He was, however, deeply affected by the youtube video footage, which later surfaced. In his own statement, released a few days after the event, the defender revealed that he had ‘strong feelings’ about the matter, but declined to comment further. He concluded his statement by saying he trusted the F.A to investigate the matter thoroughly. In the pre-match warm up before Q.P.R played Tottenham, Ferdinand wore an anti racism T-Shirt, his gesture speaking volumes about his feelings on the matter.

There exists a tension, then, between the two versions of events. If Terry is telling the truth, it would mean Ferdinand was lying about the fact there were no issues between them on the pitch, surely something a model professional footballer would never do. The closest player to Terry was team mate Ashley Cole, a black player, but so far the player has not spoken out to corroborate Terry’s version of events. The police have opened up their own investigation, something they would be unlikely to do without strong evidence. The result is that, if found guilty, Terry most likely faces an FA ban and a fine. A bigger issue preying on his mind, however, is he may be stripped of the England captaincy, at least for the friendlies against Spain and Sweden.

Capello has stressed Terry is innocent until proven guilty, therefore the player should be eligible for selection, but the fate of the player is to be decided at the weekend in a meeting with senior FA figures. I believe the England boss is wise to pursue this course, possibly mindful of the debacle, which surrounded the stripping and then reinstatement of Terry as captain after the Wayne Bridge affair. A snap decision now by Capello or the F.A would likely destabilise the squad with the inevitable media frenzy. If Terry is found guilty, however, Capello has a big decision to make.

Q.P.R owner Tony Fernandes has spoken out in support of Terry, emphasising the need for hard evidence before judgement is undertaken. He also echoed the views of Paul Ince, suggesting things said in the heat of the moment do not necessarily reflect deep held beliefs. Terry has spent his entire career playing with black players, so it would seem unlikely that he is genuinely racist. That said, the idea of John Terry as a role model and a leader has once again come into question. Whatever the result of the various investigations against him, Terry has left another unpleasant stain on his legacy.